Knowing your future from a young age is impossible, which is why so many people struggle to know which career path to take when leaving education – however there are so many opportunities on the horizon which could be inspiring to you …

Having chosen their career path in the agricultural industry, The Scottish Farmer managed to grab a hold of three youngsters from across Scotland, to showcase what inspired them into their chosen careers and what the future holds for them.

Donald’s dairy career

Donald Erskine

Donald Erskine

It was a natural progression into the agricultural industry for Donald Erskine, from Ayrshire, having been brought up on a family beef farm, along with friends and family in the same industry.

He could see no other career path for him, but now having worked as a sales executive for Fullwoodhead Dairy Supplies since August, 2017, he has a clearer career route in his chosen industry.

“I was previously in a sales position prior to this role, however I was looking for a new challenge at the time, so agricultural sales was the next step for me. I also loved the variety that the job offered – the scenery and the activities,” said Donald.

“It has been a great learning curve for me having had to gain training on the job with a variety of products, which has occurred both here and abroad, so I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given, as well as attaining licenses for operating machinery and trailers.

“The best training I had was getting out there, meeting people and fitting the products I was selling to help understand the ins and outs of it all. I think it is mainly the people that keep you going, you have to be a people person in this job, and they are always at the heart of what you do.

“If you are looking to start within agriculture, it is crucial to keep an open mind. Everything is always changing and you need to be ready for that. If you only do what you’ve always done – you’ll only get what you’ve always got!

“After the year we have had, you have got to be optimistic, so I think the future can only get brighter for me,” he concluded.

Amy Haddow’s job as an auctioneer

Amy Haddow

Amy Haddow

Having also grown up on a family farm and sharing a passion for animals is where the inspiration for pursuing a career in agriculture began for Amy Haddow, Lesmahagow, who has been a trainee auctioneer at Lawrie and Symington, in Lanark, since August, 2017.

Starting off as an office administration assistant, Amy soon grabbed the opportunity to become a field-person just one year into the job and is now halfway through a four-year traineeship to become an auctioneer.

She’s studying part time at Harper Adams University doing a Livestock Market Operations and Management course.

“As well as learning and gaining experience on the job and going out and getting to know our customers, Lawrie and Symington provided me the opportunity to go to Harper and encouraged me to do this course as part of my training as an auctioneer. It has helped me develop new skills and guided me in how to apply my knowledge to the role as best I can,” she said.

“I work alongside one of few female auctioneers in the industry, Primrose Beaton, and her drive and determination had always inspired me. She has been a great support and mentor to me in my role as a trainee auctioneer.

“Agriculture has always been perceived as a male dominated industry, so I think that does put a lot of women off, but over the last few years things have evolved greatly and there are more and more women coming through within the industry, with a lot more support and encouragement now from different organisations than there ever was,” she said.

What advice would she give to newcomers coming into the industry: “Agriculture is an ever evolving industry so don’t be scared to take on new challenges and step out of your comfort zone. Everyone makes mistakes, learn from them and don’t let them get you down!

“Make the most of any opportunity put in front of you, and don’t be scared to ask for help and advice from your peers, as there is always something to learn from someone else.

“The future is looking bright for the industry with more and more people recognising the importance of supporting Scottish farmers who are producing food to the highest standards, and I’ll continue to work hard within my role to ensure farmers are well rewarded for this,” added Amy.

Shannon has netted a new career path

Shannon Graham

Shannon Graham

Further North, Shannon Graham, Fort William, began her career as a farming graduate in fish farming, before becoming assistant manager at Lochailort Hatchery.

“Growing up in the Highlands, I was always aware of fish farming and the secure, successful jobs they created,” she said. “Land-based fish farming and recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) are likely to progress and expand in the future as technology develops.

“The aquaculture sector will undoubtedly become of greater importance as we can produce food sustainably and meet the demand of a growing population,” she added.

“Looking out for opportunities that arise is where your career path can take you many places ... you don’t need to have set out your goals from a young age.

“The advert for Mowi’s graduate programme was first advertised on the day of my graduation! I was actively looking for employment to begin my career as a graduate and after doing some research on aquaculture and Mowi, I applied to the post. The graduate position offered me experience in all stages of fish farming from egg intake to harvest.

“Most of my training was on the job, which involved the daily husbandry duties of caring for the salmon, however Mowi put me through many courses and tickets in order to better my career.

“They enrolled me on a Continued Professional Development (CPD) university course in ‘Aquaculture Management’ which involved studying for one year and learning about all different parts of production covering Freshwater, Seawater, Health and Welfare.

“During my time on the graduate programme, I was given a mentor who was available for any help and support I needed and also encouraged me to take part in industry wide seminars and conferences which were always great networking opportunities.

“I have recently completed Mowi’s graduate programme and have been offered the role as assistant manager in one of their RAS hatchery units where I am now looking forward to gaining more knowledge and experience in the freshwater stage of salmon production.

“For someone coming into the industry, I would urge them just to go for it! The industry has so many diverse opportunities covering a huge rage of different interests including fish health, production and planning, fish husbandry, hatchery husbandry, engineering, mechanics, electricians, skippers and deckhands, marketing, HR and many more – there really is something for everyone!” she concluded.